Monday, November 30, 2009

Firefly's Hurt Too

If the situation weren't so unfortunate, this might be humorous.

This is Flare, Ember's twin sparktressling. Firefly would be posting, but...Well, may I tell you a short story?

Ember is a very good kachina. I'm sure she's bragged about it before on here. She's really quite arrogant about it, you know. (Sorry, Em, just being honest.) She is talented, though. The Fire Lord always watches her more than any of us. So lately, he's been missing her. You can tell he doesn't get as much entertainment out of us. Today he snapped. Flicker accidentally hit Sparkle in the eye, and Sparkle fell into me, and I tripped and brought Firefly down. The Fire Lord was unbelievably angry and shouted that Ember wouldn't have fallen. He stood up and started throwing fireballs at Firefly. She's the oldest and supposed to be the lead kachina (although Ember's quite bossy so it's really more like her), so whenever we do something wrong she gets blamed. I felt terrible and tried to help her, but Comet and Sparkle told me not to move. The Fire Lord was going to beat Firefly anyway, it would make no sense to get beaten myself. I didn't want to listen to them, but I was very upset and afraid and so I did.

Firefly is in a pretty bad way and she's upset with Ember, seeing how this is all sort of her fault. If she had just followed the rules she wouldn't be lying in bed with a raw back. And if she weren't such a bossy peacock all the time, it'd be easier to feel sorry for her.

I do feel sorry for her though. She's in a lot of pain and I do love her. I feel worse for Firefly though. This wasn't Firefly's fault and she's still being blamed.

The worst part is that now we don't have a lead kachina. Firefly counts beats and decides what routine we'll do. I guess, being the oldest of us four left, it'll be me now, but I've never been confident about all this. I hate our costumes, they make me I'm not comfortably with the whole thing. I don't know what we'll do.

Keep Ember and Firefly in your thoughts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ember Update

This is Firefly, Ember's older sparktressling.

Don't be upset, Ember is not dead, but she can't post because of the pain.

She'd like me to tell you that the Fire Lord had her flogged with fire ropes. She'd also like me to tell you that she is quite lucky. The Fire Lord would have killed her without a doubt if he had heard the entire story. Coal did not tell him everything. He merely reported seeing Ember leaving her room, not that she overheard anything from the spies.

I just want to say how upsetting this entire situation is. Ember is in more pain than I've ever seen her in. She is not even speaking, just tears running down her cheeks sometimes. The Fire Lord did not even send any sort of medicine to ward off infection. I know this is justice, Ember disobeyed the rules, but it's very difficult to watch. I hope to the Fire Lord she recovers swiftly.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I feel absolutely sick to my stomach. I think I'm going to be sick. I'm shaking, I'm cold, and I've barely said a word this past hour.

The strangers are gone; the Fire Lord has announced that everyone is free to move about the Palace again.

Which means Coal has had his chance to report me.

I've never been so afraid in my whole life. What was I thinking?? How could I have been so foolish as to disobey the Fire Lord? And get caught, too! Of all the stupid things to do, spying on the spies must be at the top of the list.

My eyes are bright green and I'm breaking out into a cold sweat.

Will the Fire Lord kill me? Or only have me flogged? Or branded! I've heard of him doing that. There used to be a page sparker around who had all sorts of brand scars on his back, marking his shame. He was a complete rebel for who-knows-why and he was executed two springs ago.

Surely the Fire Lord won't kill me! I've never done anything like this before! But his temper has been so short of late, and with the talk of rebellion last month or so, I'm sure he's more likely to kill than ever.

But under all this fear there are other feelings. Feelings not timid at all. There are feelings of determination and still curiosity. If the Fire Lord does not have me executed, will I try this again?


I can't say. The fear of death is too close now. But I'm still somehow curious, so painfully curious. Coal knows so much, and I know so little. It's too unfair to be borne! I want to know things! I hate being blinded!

Who knows what's to come. Not me.

I do not know of any gods to pray to, but if you do, please pray for me.

And pray also that those words never come back to the Fire Lord. To pray to or worship anything but him would lead to death without question.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I haven't been out of the room today. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm terrified. The Fire Lord's already in a terrible mood. Spying on the spies would be bad enough a crime, but actually overhearing some secrets...

Readers, the Fire Lord could kill me for this. And unfortunately I mean that quite literally. Slaves have been killed for less around here.

The only thing standing between me and certain death is my skill as a kachina. I am quite serious. All of Jeolotoe knows how much pride the Fire Lord takes in his kachinas. We are the finest in the world. Furier has always been home to the finest kachinas in the world. I am particularly fine. Out of the six of us, I'm the best.

Maybe I'm being prideful. Maybe I'm just being realistic.

Either way, I honestly cannot imagine what will become of me. None of us kachinas are saying much. An hour ago a frightened deaf and mute sparktress brought in some bread. Firefly keeps giving me terrified glances. Flare won't look at me at all. Flicker just stares constantly. Sparkle's eyes dart from face to face. Comet stares out the window.

We are all afraid. Afraid for me.

What am I to do?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Commands, Coal, and Caught! A Very Long Post, But Worth Your Time, I Think

I spied.

I may never do it again.

We awoke the sound of the alarm gong, loud and clear.

You know those certain sounds that make your skin crawl, your stomach jump, and something at the back of your mind just flinch? The warning gong is one of those sounds. It means one of three things:

1. The Palace is under attack.
2. Someone inside the Palace has been arrested.
3. The Fire Lord wants to see everyone front and center.

There are different patterns for different emergencies. After flying awake in a mild panic, my first response was deadly quiet, listening for the gong sequence...

The Fire Lord was summoning all Palace slaves.

If you don't know this already, when the Fire Lord calls you to do something, you do it before he's even finished his command. Of course, this command was a bit harder to fulfill on the part of us kachinas; we not only have to react quickly with the rest of the slaves, we're expected to look good while we do.

I've never dressed and combed my hair that quickly. I opted to omit the makeup, which still takes us five minutes at least, even with years of practice. (For all you who are interested in what our daily makeup looks like, click HERE and HERE. Of course, it's more elaborate for special occasions: HERE and HERE.)

After throwing on some clothes, we ran down the hall and into the dining hall. Most of the other slaves were already there. So was the Fire Lord. He so rarely comes into the slave areas; everyone's eyes were green (except the spies', of course).

I won't bore you with the details; in short, the Fire Lord forbade anyone from leaving their quarters until further notice. No one dared to ask how we were to eat, though I'm sure we were all wondering. The Fire Lord didn't even make an exception for spies. That surprised everyone, especially the spies. Their usually unreadable faces held hints of irritations and suspicion.

The Fire Lord dismissed us, and we all hurried back to our rooms.

"Do you think this has anything to do with the strangers?" Sparkle asked, the moment we were back in the kachina keep.

"Of course it does!" I cried impatiently, sitting on the bed. I glanced at myself in the mirror and made a face. I hate how I look without makeup. I've worn it everyday for so long I feel naked without it. I got up and began applying eyeliners and paint.

Firefly rolled her eyes. "Ember, we aren't going to see anyone for goodness-knows-how-long. Your pretty face will be quite wasted."

"Yes, we won't be seeing Coal," Flare said, her voice taunting. I snarled at her and went back to tracing my eyes.

"How are we supposed to get food?" Sparkle grumbled. "I'm already hungry."

"You don't suppose there's any danger, do you?" Flicker asked nervously.

"I expect there's some," Firefly answered, eying my makeup with a frown. "Ember, really, you're using up valuable paint."

I ignored her. I suddenly realized why I was putting on makeup.

I was going out, of course.

I did not intend to follow the Fire Lord's command for once in my life. I was curious, too curious to bear, and I was not going to miss whatever excitement was out there.

"I bet the strangers are..." Sparkle murmured. She didn't really have an answer, we all knew that. She thinks out loud a good deal. We've all learned to ignore her. If she wants us to acknowledge her, she has no problem screaming so in our ears.

"Long-lost relatives," Flare suggested, a gleam in her eye. "The Fire Lord has family!"

We all stared at her with incredulous expressions.

"Really, Flare, everyone knows what happened to the Fire Lord's family," I said with disgust. Flare frowned and shrugged.

"I was only speculating," she insisted. "Where's your sense of fun?"

I smiled inwardly. Oh, I planned to have some fun.

Before long, I finished applying my daily makeup and eyed the window causally. Our room is on the ground floor. The Palace is only one floor except the dungeons below and a tower on either end of the building. The curtains fluttered in the light breeze. (We have shutters, but we only use them in the rain.)

"I have know what I mean," I said awkwardly, looking at the window pointedly. Firefly saw through that right away.

"What are you talking about, Ember? We've been here all of a quarter shadowmark," she said. I shrugged.

"My body doesn't tell time," I retorted simply, walking over to the window. "I'll only be a minute."

"Ember!" cried Flare, her eyes gleaming. "What if someone sees you?" She giggled. "What if Coal sees you?"

For a moment, my eyes actually flashed to green.

Oh, really, Ember, I scolded myself. You know very well you aren't really planning to "relieve yourself". I shrugged. "I'll have to risk it."

I leaped easily over the sill (it comes to about my waist) and dropped the yard or so to the ground.

"What if you get caught?" I heard Flicker hiss. Without replying, I took off at a dead run. I didn't know where I was going exactly, but I ended up under the spies' window.

I'm not sure how long I expected that to last. Definitely not as long as it did...

Asher: "I don't know why the Fire Lord's restricted us as well. We already know everything that's happening anyway."

Blaze: *snort* "Keep your mouth shut, Asher. You only know what we want you to."

Coal: (sharply) "Hi! Are we all spies together or aren't we? Leave him be, Blaze, we're all disappointed."

Blaze: (bitter) "You leave me be."


Asher: "Do you suppose this has got anything to do with--"

Coal: "Asher, you've got to start connecting the dots for yourself."


Asher: "Well, do you??"

Blaze and Coal: (sharp) "YES."


Blaze: "Stop fidgeting, Asher, by the Fire Lord, you've got to learn to hide your feelings. In a real situation you'd be discovered faster than a kachina in a barnyard!"

Coal: "Can you really blame him? Waiting on the outside is awfully difficult."

Blaze: "I don't mean to speak unchecked, but I believe this may have something to do with..."

Coal: "The Pale One."

The Pale One??

Blaze: "Yes."

Coal: "Yes."

Blaze: "You know?"

Coal: "I presume."

Blaze: "Dangerous."

Coal: "What isn't?"

Asher: "What?"


Blaze: "So those sparkers and man must be...after all this time..."

Coal: "...they found what they were looking for."

Blaze: "So I presume."

Coal: "Are we to stay here?"

Blaze: "Is that question in honest?"

Asher: "What are you talking about??"

Coal: *snickers* "I say--"

He stopped. My blood ran cold.

I heard the sound of a small spark popping. I swallowed. The spies sometimes use some sort of spark-code to communicate when words will not do.

A few spark-pops answered. I pressed myself against the outside wall. I would have run, but living around Coal had taught me one thing: when in doubt, stay still.

My heart pounded. My eyes pulsed bright green. My palms chilled.

Suddenly I was aware of the shadow moving across my head. Swallowing hard, I could take the suspense no longer. I looked up into Coal's face, staring at me from the window. Anger would have been easier to take; the perfect stoniness was worse. He disappeared for a moment and then jumped the windowsill, landing lightly right in front of me. Blaze was right behind him. I tried to stare back at them with the same coldness they mastered, but I knew my eyes were still green.

Coal spoke, "What. The devil. Are. You. Doing here."

Just like that, I felt foolish.

"There are too many questions and not enough answers of late. I wanted to fix that."

"By directly defying the Fire Lord," Coal finished. I shuddered. Yes, that was obvious. And now Coal would turn me in. Of course he would. It was his duty.

"Well, what were you plotting to do?" I snapped. Coal's face was unreadable.

"I don't know what you mean."

My lip curled. "Of course you don't. The injustice of this entire situation. You will report me to the Fire Lord for doing precisely what you were intending to do. Of course, if I were to attempt to turn you in, the Fire Lord wouldn't believe me."

A hint of humor crept into Coal's eyes. "Yes. Now forget everything you heard about our sweethearts and go back to your room. I'll tell the Fire Lord about your little misdemeanor when all this is over."

"Sweethearts!" I scoffed. "Unless one of your sparktressfriends' name is 'the Pale One' I--"

Me and my big mouth. Coal's eyebrow shot up as he heard exactly what he was fishing for. He nodded slowly.

"So that's where you came in." Even with all his spy training, a hint of anger tinted his tone. "We'll be sure to mention that to our Lord as well. I'm sure he'll have some way of making certain you don't forget your place next time. Go."

I swallowed my pride as much as I could and ran.

What a truly horrible day this has been. I had to tell the other kachinas what happened, but I kept the information about "the Pale One" to myself. I'm not completely suicidal, you know.

I do not even want to think about what will happen when Coal tells the Fire Lord about all this. Coal is wonderful, but unfailingly loyal to the Fire Lord in every way. When he is in spy mode, there is little I fear more.

Sunday, November 15, 2009



I'm so surprised! There are three sparkers and a man here, and none of us slaves know why.

In the middle of dinner, a page ran into the dining hall and said the Fire Lord wanted us (kachinas). This wasn't particularly unexpected; the Fire Lord had been calling for us at odd hours lately.

So, we went in to entertain him.

He was extremely difficult to please. Every routine we began, he snapped that he had just seen that one. More than a few fire strands were wielded. Comet and I have welts to prove it.

We entertained the Fire Lord for a couple of hours at least. In the middle of a routine, the throne room doors flew open. They slammed against the wall with an earsplitting sound. I know I jumped a foot. My eyes flashed briefly to a frightened green.

Four figures strode quickly up the aisle. My eyes widened. I looked at Firefly and Flare. What in Jeolotoe...? No one comes into the Fire Lord's throne room uninvited.

Three of the figures were obviously fire fairies. Their wings were absolutely huge and all the same shades of red and oranges. The patterns were all quite different, as were their faces. Still, I think they must be related.

The fourth figure was tall and blonde and human.

The Fire Lord seemed surprised to see them, but not alarmed. The strangers came and stood side by side, a few feet before the steps to the throne. They did not bow. They did not speak.

Suddenly the Fire Lord remembered us kachinas.

"Kachinas! Leave us at once."

Bowing hastily, we ran out of the room.

Once in the hall, we broke into a flurry of whispers.

"What in Jeolotoe just happened?"
"Who were they??"
"How could they just intrude that way? Don't they have any manners?"
"Did you see the size of their wings?"
"What's a piece of human like him doing with three sparkers?"
"I think the brunette fire fairy was awfully good-looking, don't you?"

*clears throat* The last comment was from me...

So many more questions! Even than before! I'm sorry for posting twice in a day, but this just had to be written down. I absolutely have to get to the bottom of this...

I know this was probably a very disorganized post, so if you have any questions I'll try to answer them. Also, any suggestions on not getting caught as I try to figure things out?


I know it's been another long time. I'm sorry. I'm still not sure what's going on the Palace. I've been doing too much talking and not enough doing. I've got to really start snooping.

Coal and Blaze have been back for a few weeks now. They're so different. Whatever is amiss in the Palace is making them act strangely. Coal is back, but it's almost like he's still not here. He doesn't look at us kachinas, talk to us, even smile at us anymore. And there's some new sparktress slave who's after him. I don't know what happened to him in Brightwood, but he's different and horrible. I haven't even attempted to ask him what's going on. I'm sure he wouldn't tell me, if he even answered me at all.

I got upset at a little kachina-in-training last week. She was being unbearably defiant and telling me I was dancing wrong.

Yes, she said that to me. After four hours of her rubbing on my nerves, her accusing me of dancing wrong was the last straw. I ended up yelling at her and making her stay after training to do extra conditioning. No one much cared (except her, of course), but now we're apparently mortal enemies. The little seven-year-old is making my life miserable. She talks constantly during training, refuses to do steps right, and her form is so terrible even Coal could see it! If she ever wants to get anywhere as a kachina, she had better improve awfully quickly. I'm not sure she knows what happens to unless kachinas...I'm not even sure I know...

Tensions, tensions, tensions. I'm curious, but also cowardly. I never thought of myself as being cowardly before, but the idea of actually sneaking around the Palace spying makes my stomach knot. I've no idea what would happen to me if I were caught. I'm sure I don't want to find out...

I'm such a miserable, impatient coward. As usual, any and every comment is welcome.